Open-ended math question days are the most exciting ones in my classroom. The room is usually frenetic with students eager to solve complex problems. Student agency takes center stage as they are asked to solve a problem in any way they want using any tool that makes sense to them. But they are MOST eager to hear that the questions I give them often have more than one solution…usually dozens!
Often times, in the upper years, open-ended math questions morph in to rich-math questions that require multiple steps and strategies to solve. They are best completed in collaborative groupings.
Most weeks, my Math Workshop is organized on a rotation that leaves an extra day in the week for math exploration. I use the “extra” day to meet with students who need more support, present students with an open-ended math task, or students check-in on their independent math goals based on their JAMS assessment scores (thanks NZ Maths!)
Creating open-ended math questions aren’t hard and you can often strategically craft one that supports your current unit or reviews necessary skills. But if you’re not in the mood to start from scratch…I have a bunch of resources that can help:
- Erma Anderson’s Live Binder
- Rich Learning Tasks from NZ Math and Problem Solving Tasks
Math Wire Website
- Noticing and Wondering Prompts
- 3-Act Tasks
- How Open-Ended Math Problems Keep on Giving (article)
For this example, I told the students: There are 26 wheels in the carpark. Bikes have 2 wheels. Cars have 4 wheels. Busses have 6 wheels. How many combinations can you come up with?